Ugandan police on Saturday accused Rwandan soldiers of entering its territory and killing two men, amid rising tensions between the leaders of the two countries.
Relations between Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, once close allies who backed each other into power, have turned deeply hostile in recent months, with the pair trading accusations of espionage, political assassinations and meddling in each other’s backyards.
Police said the alleged raid occurred around 8:00 pm (1800 GMT) on Friday at a border post near the Ugandan village of Kiruhura in Rukiga district in the west of the country.
Police spokesman Fred Enanga said the soldiers entered “about 80 metres into Ugandan territory” in pursuit of a Rwandan who rode into his country on a motorbike laden with goods from Uganda but made a U-turn on seeing the soldiers.
“The victim resisted attempts to arrest him, and he was shot to the head and killed instantly,” Enanga said, adding that a Ugandan who tried to intervene was also shot dead.
The soldiers then retreated into Rwanda, he said.
“In this very instance, there was no justification for the illegal entry and use of deadly force by the Rwandan military, due to the presence of alternative, adequate and effective remedies available at our disposal,” he said.
Rwandan officials were not available for comment.
The border is porous and traders often smuggle goods from Uganda into Rwanda.
Rwanda has drastically reduced the quantity of imports from Uganda a few months ago and its citizens are banned from crossing over to Uganda.
Uganda however has not imposed tit-for-tat measures.
Enanga said Rwanda must “avoid acts of provocation”. He said 44 Rwandans had been intercepted illegally entering southwestern Uganda recently and had been handed back in a “very peaceful manner.”
The row between the two strongmen risks dragging in their neighbours, threatening economic integration and regional stability in an already conflict-prone swathe of the continent.
The standoff escalated dramatically in March when Rwanda publicly accused Uganda of abducting its citizens and supporting rebels bent on overthrowing the government.
Museveni — who has admitted meeting, but not endorsing, anti-Kagame rebels — harbours his own suspicions about his erstwhile ally. His officials have accused Rwandans in Uganda of spying, and some have been detained by military courts or deported.